The Punch and the Privilege

Nobody is going to hit as hard as life. I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. ~ Rocky

Life hit us pretty hard yesterday. It was the punch no one saw coming. The death of my friend and former colleague, Sam Merrill, was a powerful uppercut to the chin – a knockout blow to every person who ever came into contact with him.

As we slowly come to today, we’re groggy wondering what happened – confused by the referee counting to ten. We can either stay down or get back on our feet. Sam’s death comes at an interesting time for me. I’ve been writing letters to my teenage daughters – takeaways and lessons for them to know their father better; my history, my struggles and missteps, my redemption and happiness. In my writing, I talk about my time in television news. I wrote: We were a family – dysfunctional at times, but a family nonetheless. TV news isn’t like other jobs. You go through things together. You hold onto each other through triumphs and tragedies. On September 11, 2001, I wasn’t home with my babies and my wife; I was in the newsroom, in a circle, praying with my news family. If you ever find this with a group of people, don’t for a second take it for granted. I did. Consider it a blessing from God and be grateful in your actions.

Today, as I pull myself up from the mat, I feel privileged. I got to work side-by-side with my hero. What a pleasure it was to call him friend. Sam challenged me, praised me, and made me better. More importantly, he made me laugh. If you’re like me, you want to leave a legacy in this life; you want to be remembered. Sam never had to worry about that. His place as “memorable” was solidified long ago. When I worked with him he was a good man, but an incomplete one. His wife and his boy were the final pieces and he adored them both.

It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward.

Yes, the punch landed hard and we are still down. Sam would say, “Okay, ya done? Now get off your arse and get going.” Say everything you have to say. Do everything you need to do. Don’t for a second take it for granted. Consider everything a blessing. Love.

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